As one of the most iconic landmarks in Rome (and in all of Italy) the Colosseum is a must visit. This historic amphitheater was opened in 80 AD and spans 6 acres, and it is the largest ancient amphitheater ever built. Astonishingly, it is also still the largest standing amphitheater! Originally known as the Flavian Amphitheater, it was built by the Emperors Titus, Domitian, and Vespasian who were the successors to Nero of the Flavian dynasty.
Before our visit, we stopped at a small local gelato shop. As we walked towards the theater, the first sights of it were pretty incredible. It is one of those places that you always see on TV or in movies, and then when you’re actually approaching it you almost get a surreal feeling.
As we were about to get in line, a man walked up to us and asked what time it was. I saw that he had bracelets, and so I was a little weary of him. If you’re unfamiliar, it is a common scam in many large cities for a person to walk up and “give” you a bracelet before asking for (or even demanding) a tip. Mason checked the time and gave it to him. He then said thanks so much, and gave us a bracelet and walked away. So that was an unexpected, but pleasant experience.
After we got our tickets (which didn’t take more than around 10 minutes or so), we grabbed a map and started walking around and exploring. I’ve heard some people say that when they visit the Colosseum that they almost felt disappointed because it seemed small. To me, it was the total opposite. Maybe it’s the fact that I know how ancient it is, but I was more than impressed by the expansive arena and the architecture of it. Just thinking about the fact that a structure that is that old was still standing is incredible. I couldn’t help but imagine how it must have looked when it was in full use.
In the center of the Colosseum was the arena, where there was once a wooden platform where the games took place. There was seating for between 40,000 and 70,000 spectators, where people were seated according to their social rank. So much happened during the Colosseum’s hay day, including the well known gladiator battles, executions of prisoners of war and criminals, and even the pitting of humans against wild animals including lions, wolves, bears, tigers, buffalo, and more (yikes).
For our first visit, we just did the general admission ticket which was 48 euros and included the Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Palatine Hill Tour. If you’re planning to do a lot of exploring, it isn’t a bad price at all! There are also a couple of other options, including an Underground Colosseum Tour which takes place at night and a private tour.
I do think that next time I will opt for one of the other tours, just to be able to explore more and to get questions answered as they come up! The Underground tour sounds particularly interesting to me because you get to go into passages where gladiators waited for their turn to do battle in the arena. You also get to go out onto the arena floor!
All in all, a visit to the Roman Colosseum is something I would recommend any traveler to add to their bucket list. You can get great photos everywhere you look, learn about history, and see some amazing architecture!